Charlie Diaz Rivera, a first-year teacher at Career Institute East, had been supervising Dallas ISD students in the electrical technology field at one of the district’s industry partners. He is now living his dream of creating opportunities for students and as an Electrical Technology teacher at the school.
“I was being given this opportunity to help kids to succeed in life, and I saw this as a door that was opening,” Diaz Rivera said. “This was something that I always wanted to do, and now I’m able to do it.”
Becky Barker, industry partner coordinator for Career Institute East, said she is always looking for talented individuals who are passionate about their work and like to work with youths. She noticed the rapport Diaz Rivera had with students he supervised as part of his work with Excell Electric—one of the district’s leading industry partners—and asked him if he wanted to teach.
Diaz Rivera, who has been in the industry for five years, worked with Dallas ISD students who intern at the company, which also offers seniors jobs after graduation. He welcomed the opportunity to work with the students because he had enjoyed working with youths in the past as a volunteer youth leader, as a pastor, and as a coach.
Diaz Rivera, who identifies with his students’ challenges, tells them that he understands that each one of them has a story and personal struggles, but that those things shouldn’t define them.
He reassures them that while some might have challenges in areas such as reading or math, nothing is impossible. Out in the field, there are many opportunities to discover and hone their talents in the industry, so he teaches them the skills they need to get a good job and be successful, he said.
He knows that encouragement and understanding from a teacher can make all the difference—his high school teacher at South Garland High School, Ashley Wills, had such an impact on him.
“If it wasn’t for her and for the love and guidance that she showed to me and [all]her students, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” Diaz Rivera said.
“She had a lot of patience and a lot of love to give,” he said. “She made sure she took her time to make sure that I understood everything that I did, and made sure that I felt appreciated and that I belonged. That’s how I want my students to feel.”
Diaz Rivera’s hopes and dreams for his students are that they all become business owners and leaders in this industry.
“Whether it’s owning a mom and pop shop and working your way up, the goal is for each of my students to become masters at what they do, and to keep growing—the sky’s the limit,” he said.
Not only is Diaz Rivera teaching his students skills to be successful, he’s also teaching them to be confident. He believes that by giving his students opportunities, they can break out of their comfort zones.
“As long as you have that confidence, and we can build you up, the possibilities are endless,” he said.